Monday, January 30, 2017

The sin that holds you back

Our greatest struggle is with ourselves and our attitude.

Not other people, or lack of money, or opportunity, or your family of origin — not with birth order, race, gender, or where you live. None of these things can hold us back from living a life of purpose.

What holds us back is ourselves. Our habits, our negative thinking, our excuses, our fears, our whining, our lack of discipline, our fear of failure, our refusal to let go of the past, our unwillingness to forgive, our loss of hope and our lack of enthusiasm, our cup-half-empty view of the world… All these obstacles and more rest within us, not outside of us. They conspire against our dreams and our hopes for a future filled with God’s blessings.

There is an often-overlooked story in Mark 6, where Jesus goes back to his hometown of Nazareth. Now, I like going back to my hometown — people are excited to see me, and I, them. But when Jesus returned to his hometown, the people were rather cool and hands-off with him. Standing off in the distance, they gossiped about him: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him (Mark 6:3).

Jesus came to bless them, and they missed their blessing because of one thing: a failure to humble themselves and believe in the person of Jesus. They were unwilling to embrace the gift he was offering. What was the result? “And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:5-6). This same chill, disaffected attitude can infect churches, families, marriages — people in general.

We get so fixated on the tired old world as we know it, we’re blinded to the Kingdom and the Life that God keeps trying to show us. We literally cannot see the Light.

As we continue to walk through these early days of 2017, let’s bring a new attitude of faith in God. Let’s practice gratitude to God for all the many ways we are blessed. Let’s stop the negative thinking, the negative talking, and let us be thankful that the Lord is with us. God has great things in store for you through the gift of Christ our Lord.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39).

Absolutely confident that our God is greater!

Pastor Ray Hylton

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

75 years of commitment

Maybe I am the only one who never heard about Fred Stobaugh. Fred met his wife, Lorraine in Peoria, IL in 1938. He fell in love with her almost on the spot. 

After 75 years of faithful love and devotion to his  wife, Lorraine died and Fred wrote a song in honor of his wife. 

Fred heard about an on-line singer-songwriter contest sponsored by Green Shoe Studio, a local music business. 

This man is not a song-writer or a singer, but something about his entry touched the the folks at Green Shoe Studio. 

This is one of the great love stories of our time. A man loving one woman for life and for keeps. 

Fred's devotion to Lorraine reflects what the Lord says in Ephesians 5: 25. 

Watch the video and allow it to inspire you. Share it with others.

The joy that comes from staying committed through the hard times is what really matters. 

Whatever you think you may or may not have in common with your spouse when you are young and tempted to bail out on a marriage, keep in mind that by the time you’ve been married for forty years, you will have more in common with your spouse—shared experiences, shared trials and triumphs—than any other person on the planet. 

And the most important thing you will have in common is a monumental shared achievement: the marriage itself that brings honor to God and blesses others. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

4 questions every Christians must answer

I found these four questions quite helpful in thinking about ways to engage and serve my community. Why not get together with other concerned Christians and wrestle with the questions? Be ready for what the Lord will show you and call you to do.

First, what is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?

Second, what is missing in our culture that we can creatively contribute?

Third, what is evil in our culture that we can stop?

And finally, what is broken in our culture that we can restore?

Restoring all things: God's audacious plan to restore the world through everyday people. By Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet